Mother’s Day Brunch at The Westgate Hotel

Mother's Day Brunch at The Westgate Hotel

I have a confession to make. I love brunch. Like absolutely love it. From the amazing food to the day drinking to the ambiance, brunch was made for me. And I may or may not have shared that love with my five year old daughter. Sans the day drinking, of course! So when I was invited to come out to The Westgate Hotel and indulge a little in an amazing meal I couldn’t say no! And what better time than right before Mother’s Day?

I don’t know about you, but the only thing I ask for on Mother’s Day is for my family to take me out to brunch and to have a clean house that day. Simple things. But this brunch? Wow. I invited my mother-in-law and my daughter (of course) and it knocked our socks off. I would truly feel honored if my family took me here to treat me on Mother’s Day.

Mother's Day Brunch at the Westgate Hotel - cold cuts

As soon as you walk into the hotel you’re greeted by smiling faces helping you find exactly where you need to go. And once the elevator doors open into the beautiful Fontainebleau and Versailles Salons and you walk into the gorgeous setting where they host brunch, you’re immediately relaxed and ready for a wonderful meal.

We were seated at our table and immediately greeted by our amazing server, Juan. He took care of us the whole morning and made sure that my mimosa glass was full and my mother-in-law and daughter had everything they needed. I knew we were in for a great time when he told my daughter that she was definitely old enough for a glass to drink her orange juice out of. Her little chest puffed up and she drank her OJ like a pro.

Mother's Day Brunch at the Westgate Hotel - crepe station

The Food

Now I’ve been to many brunches in my 32 years however none have stacked up to the selection that The Westgate Hotel has. The choices you’ll have to make when you first walk through can be quite hard.

We had to take a lap around to view the selection first and then my daughter stopped at the crepe and waffle station. We watched with amazement as they made a delicious crepe for me and then flambeed some berries to nestle inside the crepe. Then they made my daughter a delicious belgian waffle with warm syrup.

Mother's Day Brunch at the Westgate Hotel - house made crepes

We then enjoyed some delicious seafood and meats from their vast array of choices. One of my favorites? The shrimp empanandas and crab cakes. Wow! The oysters rockafeller were also outstanding. And while we didn’t make it over to the sushi bar this time, I cannot wait to try it out when we visit next!

Mother's Day Brunch at the Westgate Hotel - shellfishMother's Day Brunch at the Westgate Hotel - seafoodMother's Day Brunch at the Westgate Hotel - sushi bar

As soon as my daughter walked to the desserts, her eyes got real big and she turned to me as if asking if she could really try whatever she chose. That childish joy that she experienced was exactly what I felt as an adult walking up to the dessert selection. From an amazing lavender panna cotta, to a chocolate hazelnut pyramid cake to many more scrumptious selections, our sweet tooth was fully satisfied.

Mother's Day Brunch at the Westgate Hotel - desserts

The Details

The Westgate will be offering a Mother’s Day Champagne Brunch on Sunday, May 8! Served in the hotel’s beautiful Fontainebleau and Versailles Salons, brunch will feature made to-order-omelets, fresh seafood, gourmet plates, carving and crepe stations, baked breads, pastries and a variety of gourmet desserts.

In addition to the delightful unlimited feast, the Imperial Bar will serve freshly squeezed juices and endless champagne, mimosas, Bloody Marys and margaritas. The price is $79 for adults and $39.50 for children under 12 (plus tax and gratuity).

Tickets for Mother & Daughter Teas can be purchased here. Mother’s Day Champagne Brunch reservations can be made by calling 619-557-3655.

Mother's Day Brunch at the Westgate Hotel - chocolate fountain

Looking for a place to stay in San Diego?

The Westgate Hotel is an iconic property in the heart of downtown San Diego designed to rival the mythical palaces of Europe. From its 223 elegantly appointed guest rooms to the contemporary cuisine of the award-winning Westgate Room, guests truly experience a memorable difference while enjoying European décor, attentive service, exquisite cuisine and artistic cocktails.

To reserve an overnight stay at TheWestgate Hotel, visit www.westgatehotel.com or call 800-522-1564.

Mother's Day Brunch at the Westgate Hotel - Molly and Ann

What are your plans for Mother’s Day?

Thank you to the Westgate Hotel for hosting us.

Dream Dinners Makes Mom’s Life Easier

When I find things that make my life easier, I want to climb onto the roof and shout it out to everyone. So when I was invited to try out Dream Dinners in Encinitas and see what it was all about, I couldn’t say no. And not only did I find an awesome place to enjoy some me time, I was able to check a few things off my list in a short amount of time.

Dream Dinners - Making Moms Lives Easier

I’m a huge believer of using the tools and resources out there to make our lives easier. I also believe that everyone should know their strengths and weaknesses. And when you have a weakness, you should try and find a way to create strength. I love cooking. I love to eat what I make and enjoy seeing my family around the dinner table enjoying a meal that I made.

However with an increase in work hours and a crazier family schedule, I’ve found that the one thing I don’t have is time to prep meals. That includes finding time to grocery shop (although I do love me some Amazon Prime Now and Amazon Fresh!). But even when I do get groceries delivered to our door, I still have to prep it and come up with a dinner plan. But even with the best of intentions I find myself running around 10 minutes before my husband comes home trying to find some 15 minute wonder to make and serve to the family. Or I call the husband and ask him to pick something up.

That’s when Dream Dinners stepped in and opened my eyes to how easy meal time prep could be with a little preplanning. And a little letting go. Just like I gave in and hired a maid service when I realized I am horrible at keeping up with the house cleaning, I also realize that I need help in the kitchen too for those nights that a conference call runs late, I’m still working on a project, or I have a meeting at my son’s school. And having a meal prepped and ready to go in the fridge, with little to no prep work on my end is making my life a whole lot easier.

Dream Dinners storefront

Why Dream Dinners?

Founded in 2002, Dream Dinners enables guests to choose from seasonal, rotating monthly menus and prepare the dinners in-store without the hassle of planning, shopping and chopping. They lay out the ingredients in an easy-to-follow format so you can assemble a month’s worth of meals in about an hour.

You can get a feel for the DreamDinners experience in this video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-4Cu9epiAA.

Dream Dinners - instructions to follow

How Dream Dinners Works

Interested in how Dream Dinners works? Here’s a run down of exactly what I did from the time I walked into the door to when I left with my bag of meals:

  1. As soon as I came in, I dropped off my purse and headed to grab an apron and wash my hands.
  2. Then I grabbed my list of meals that I’d be preparing that day and got to work.
  3. I went to the station for my first meal and looked over the instructions.
  4. I simply went down the instructions list and added ingredients into the small bags provided to create each “layer” of the meal or recipe. All of the tools I needed were right at the station ready to use including measuring cups and spoons as well as all of the ingredients I’d need.
  5. When I had all of the components together,  I added everything to a larger bag and popped in a recipe card so I’d know what to do once I got home.
  6. After each meal was in it’s bag, I placed it in the fridge to stay cool while I finished the rest of my meals.
  7. I repeated this process until all of my meals were done, washing my hands in between each meal prep.

Dream Dinners - tools to use

When you first walk into Dream Dinners, the helpers there take you through the process. You aren’t just left alone to figure it out, you have a helper there along the way for any questions you might have.

Since I’m eating a different meal plan than my family, I could simply omit ingredients I wouldn’t eat or substitute another ingredient. I could also note on the bag if I needed to add anything at home. For example, they have low fat versions of certain things like cream cheese. So I noted what bags I needed to add full fat cream cheese to since we don’t usually eat the low fat versions.

And not only is it easy to customize your meals, you also get to choose what meals you prepare from a huge list of meals that are on a rotating basis each month. So one month’s menu will never be the same as the previous month. That means I get to try out a lot of fun options with my family. And each time I go to Dream Dinners, I can get a taste for one of the latest menu items for the next month after I’m done!

Dream Dinners - ingredients to use

When I got my meals home, I took the three I knew I’d make in the next 5 days and put them in the fridge. All of the others went into the freezer for another week. It’s recommended to pull the meal you want to enjoy from the freezer and into the fridge the night before so it has time to thaw out. But there is also thawing options available in case you forget like I have.

And while sides don’t come with the meals, Dream Dinners has a huge fridge with sides and dessert options you can add to your meals. Or you can choose to add your own sides. For the French Taragon Chicken with Redskin Potato Wedges meal, I added fresh asparagus and just roasted it when I roasted the potatoes. So easy to throw in when everything else was cooking.

Dream Dinners 1

Dream Dinners is a great option for those parents who might not have the time every night to completely prepare and cook a homemade meal for their families. I love that I now have a (cheaper) option at my fingertips for homemade dinners to take the place of calling my husband and asking him to bring home fast food.

And? I love that I can head out to Dream Dinners for a few hours to meal prep. I don’t have to make a mess in my kitchen AND I get a little me time on the weekends. Win-win!

Have you tried Dream Dinners? What’s your favorite Dream Dinners meal?

San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering Expo Day

This post featuring the San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering’s Expo day is sponsored.

SDFSE 2016 Social Media Image EXPO Day TagExcite your mind at the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering March 5-13.

The San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering’s EXPO Day is Saturday, March 5 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and kicks off a celebratory week of learning interaction and behind-the-scenes opportunities for kids in kindergarten through 12th grade and their families to ignite the love for all things STEM.

Join us at PETCO Park for a FREE day of fun for the entire family. Visit with more than 130 local businesses, corporations and organizations providing interactive, hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) exhibits and activities to budding K-12 science lovers, but everyone is welcome. EXPO DAY is free and open to the public.

Now in its eighth year, festival organizers are expanding their festival event schedule to appeal to adults ages 21 and up, to continue their passion for STEM education. Also new in 2016 is the “STEM in Your Backyard” series, which consists of mini versions of EXPO Day in diverse communities across San Diego, including Vista, Barrio Logan, Chula Vista, City Heights and Downtown San Diego’s East Village. This new series will invite local families of all backgrounds to experience the festival and STEM exhibits in diverse neighborhoods across San Diego County.

SDFSE 2016 Twitter Image 1

A program of the BIOCOM Institute and presented by Illumina, the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering is partnering up again with the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center to encourage and get kids excited about science and related fields to inspire them to become tomorrow’s STEM innovators. The festival also helps continue our region’s reputation of being a leader in the science industry. The San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering truly shows how science and engineering is right in our “backyard.”

The San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering website has a complete list of Festival Week events. Many of the activities are free and can accommodate school groups, scout troops, and other individuals, students and families.

Go to lovestemsd.org for complete details.

SDFSE-EXPO-Day-IMG_0002-Photo by Melissa Jacobs

Is your child interested in STEM subjects?

Valentines Day Fun In Downtown San Diego

Valentines Day Fun In Downtown San Diego

Looking for great gift ideas for Valentines Day? Or are you planning an amazing day for your loved one(s)? Check out what’s going on in Downtown San Diego, including a few fun events at Seaport Village!

Valentines Day Fun In Downtown San Diego

Unique Gift Ideas

Urban Beach House offers specialty salts from La Jolla Salt Co. for your culinary cutie. Keep the love alive in the kitchen with standout flavors including uncured bacon, Aleppo chile, black summer truffle and hickory smoked sea salt (starting at $12). You’ll find all his favorite SoCal brands including sleek Nixon watches and fashion-forward Stance socks.

Love is in the air with Surf’s Up Candles from Urban Beach House featuring beachy scents like surf wax, pina colada and pineapple coconut (starting at $18). Shoppers can also find beach inspired décor, bags and one-of-a-kind jewelry at Madison San Diego boutique.

Renowned photographer (and San Diego local) Aaron Chang offers a number of options for the art lover including 12×12 prints featuring waves and exotic landscapes (starting at $150), and a San Diego Through the Lens of Aaron Chang” coffee table book featuring 80 pages of stunning San Diego scenery ($39.00).

From Feb. 12th- 14th local company Urban Shindigs will have a pop up floral shop and “Bloom Bar” in the central courtyard – the perfect place to buy blooms for your Valentine!

Fun with Food

Venissimo Cheese will offer Contraband Curds cheese plates featuring a selection of cheeses that have previously been banned. These $10 cheese plates will include dried fruit, chocolate, crackers and accoutrement.

With more than 20 hand-made gelato flavors, Gelato Paradiso will let movie guests “steal” a cone with any purchase ($1.00 value).

While you’re downtown, Morton’s The Steakhouse is offering a taste of the good life with an exceptional Morton’s steak and cold water lobster for only $55 (see image attached). We hope you consider including this in your Valentine’s Day restaurant round ups. Thank you.

Outdoor Movie Night

For a twist on the traditional Valentine’s Day date night, The Headquarters will also be hosting an outdoor movie night featuring the love and crime classic “Bonnie and Clyde” on Friday, February 12 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The event is completely free – guests are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets.

How are you celebrating Valentine’s Day?

The LEGO Movie 4D A New Adventure at Legoland California

The LEGO Movie 4D A New Adventure at Legoland CA sign at entrance

Lights! Camera! Action!

Our friends from The LEGO® Movie and Legoland California invited us out to check out their new show. And you can only see it at Legoland California! Emmet, Wyldstyle, Unikitty, MetalBeard and Benny from “The LEGO® Movie™” are back in this all-new adventure at The LEGO® Show Place. Help them defeat the evil secret plot of the new villain, Risky Business!

The LEGO® Movie4D A New Adventure reunites Emmet and friends in an all-new short story combining dazzling 3D computer animation with “4D,” real-world effects such as wind, water and fog.

In 2014, kids around the world embraced the adventures of Emmet, an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average LEGO minifigure who is mistakenly identified as the key to saving the world in “The LEGO Movie™,” which went on to gross more than $400 million worldwide.

But what happened after the movie?

The LEGO Movie 4D A New Adventure at Legoland California opens February 6

Fans can find out starting Saturday, Feb. 6, now that “The LEGO Movie4D A New Adventure” has officially opened at LEGOLAND California Resort.

Returning to voice their iconic characters are actors Elizabeth Banks (Wyldstyle), Nick Offerman (MetalBeard), Charlie Day (Benny) and Alison Brie (Unikitty). Actor, writer and comedian Patton Oswalt voices the scheming Risky Business, brother of movie villain President Business, a new character created exclusively for the attraction.

When asked how it felt to join a “family” of well-known characters, Patton responded, “It’s beyond flattering. It’s a clever, creative way of looking at, of all things, LEGO, and I was touched to be a part of it.” Patton added that since Risky Business is a character that fans of “The LEGO Movie” haven’t seen before, he approached his performance in hiding his character’s true intentions “with the wiles of a LEGO coyote.”

Set after the events of the movie, the 12 ½-minute story finds the gang entangled in an Evil Secret Plot involving a mysterious theme park inspired by their adventures in “The LEGO Movie,” one that requires them to call on the Master Builder skills of a surprise ally to save the day.

Watching The LEGO Movie 4D A New Adventure at Legoland California

The LEGO Movie4D A New Adventure” was directed by Rob Schrab, who is making his feature film directorial debut with “The LEGO Movie Sequel,” set to open May 18, 2018. When it came to designing the attraction, he said a strong story was critical to its success.

“We only spotlight them for a fraction of the amount of time,” he said, “so it’s important to get tothe fun as soon as possible. This is the first time Emmet, Wyldstyle and the gang meet since thefilm.”

Developed in collaboration with LEGOLAND owner Merlin Entertainments Group and Warner Bros. Consumer Products, the attraction was created by Los Angeles-based Pure Imagination Studios with input from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the talented writer-directors who brought “The LEGO Movie” to hilarious life, along with producer Dan Lin.

The result is a delightfully clever blend of the same sly humor and breathtaking, built-with-LEGOvisuals that made the first-ever, full-length theatrical LEGO film a global hit among kids and adults alike.

For Offerman, the opportunity to slip back into MetalBeard’s shoes – er, bricks – was a welcome one.

“I have worked with Rob on ‘Childrens Hospital’ and ‘Parks and Recreation,’ so it was like a nice reunion of old pals from summer camp,” he said of making the attraction. “We just tried to make each other laugh with silly renderings of dead-serious pirate-y mayhem.”

The LEGO® Movie4D A New Adventure” opens on Feb. 6 at LEGOLAND California Resort in Carlsbad, Calif., following its debut in Florida on Jan. 28, and will soon be playing at all other LEGOLAND theme parks and LEGOLAND Discovery Centers worldwide in 2016.

 Who’s your favorite LEGO® Movie star? 

Planning a trip to Legoland CA soon? Check out our highlights:

For more Legoland CA fun, check out these great posts:
LEGOLAND California Holiday Snow Days
Legoland Heartlake City
5 Reasons Why Star Wars Lovers Should Visit Legoland California
Top 5 Things to Do at Legoland California When You’re 5

SHIMBASHI Izakaya | San Diego Restaurant Week January 17th – 24th 2016

SHIMBASHI Izakaya San Diego Restaurant Week January 17th – 24th 2016

This Sunday kicks off the first San Diego Restaurant Week of 2016 and boy are you in for a treat. San Diego Restaurant Week will take place from January 17th – 24th 2016. In those 8 days, over 180 restaurants will offer special menus to entice guests to try new things. While you peruse the restaurants participating, you’ll notice that there’s an option for every price point. From $10 for lunch, to $50 for dinner. 

I’ve been attending restaurant week for quite a few years now and am always excited to try a new restaurant each time. Whenever I head to a new-to-me restaurant, I always try to keep an open mind. And in most instances I allow the chef or waiter to choose or suggest what I should try. I have yet to be disappointed! 

This time around I ventured a little farther north to Del Mar and was invited to try the authentic Japanese cuisine of Shimbashi Izakaya. The prix fixe menu is $40, and available for both lunch and dinner.

SHIMBASHI Izakaya Del Mar SHIMBASHI Izakaya Del Mar view

Shimbashi Izakaya | Seasonal Japanese Tapas & Sake Bar

Once I sat down in the outside patio of Shimbashi Izakaya, I was immediately taken in by the beauty of my surroundings. Set in the heart of Del Mar, I had the perfect view of the Pacific ocean. The patio was surrounded by beautiful white lanterns and each table was covered wtih an umbrella. If it’s a chilly day, I recommend a light sweater since they can’t run the heaters with the umbrellas up.

Located in the Northwest corner of Del Mar Plaza, the restaurant is mainly outside on the patio and there’s a sake bar inside. You can find parking in the parking garage right behind the shops or on the street (2 hour parking). The restaurant validates up to 2 hours but it might be worth it to enjoy lunch or dinner and then walk around for a bit and pay the $2 extra for another hour. 

SHIMBASHI Izakaya appetizer

Japanese Wagyu beef, fried blue shrimp and kobushime (kelp marinated white fish) at SHIMBASHI Izakaya

SHIMBASHI Izakaya | Restaurant Week Menu Highlights

This special Restaurant Week menu includes three kinds of appetizers for each guest, Japanese Wagyu beef, fried blue shrimp and kobushime (kelp marinated white fish), along with gunkan-maki (tuna tartare) sushi. While each component was delicious, my favorite appetizer would have t obe the fried blue shrimp. They were cooked perfectly and the flavor was absolutely delicious.

Confession: I’ve never eaten a shrimp that I had to remove the head from. It was kind of fun to figure out just how to do it. Luckily my friend Angela was there to help me out and talk me through it.

Nabe, or “hot pot,” is a fixture at dinnertime in the winter in Japan. The just-cooked piping hot ingredients really warm you up. Shimbashi prepares this special hot pot menu during San Diego Restaurant Week. You may choose from the Tarachiri (cod hot pot) or the Tori-gobo (chicken and gobo burdock). If you attend during SDRW with a friend or partner,  you can each opt to choose the same option and share a large bowl vs. the smaller bowl.

To round out our meal, we each enjoyed a Futomaki sushi roll cake. With a delicious cake exterior and creamy ice cream interior, this beautifully created sushi roll cake wasn’t too overly sweet. And the portion size was perfect for the meal. This dessert pairs perfectly with a nice hot cup of green tea.

SHIMBASHI Izakaya Tori-gobo (chicken and gobo burdock)

Tori-gobo (chicken and gobo burdock) at SHIMBASHI Izakaya

SHIMBASHI Izakaya Tarachiri (cod hot pot)

Tarachiri (cod hot pot) at SHIMBASHI Izakaya

Waygu Beef Tasting

Delightfully meaty offerings from Miyazaki Prefecture, one of Japan’s best beef areas, will be served in four different forms: steak, Hamburg steak, kushiyaki, and kushikatsu. I was able to sample both the kushiyaki and kushikatsu and both simply melted in my mouth. The flavor was spot on and seasoning perfect. I would definitely enjoy indulging in more of these great selections of delicacies from Miyazaki. 

The Wagyu tasting menu is separate from the restaurant week menu, and is subject to availability. All items are limited so hurry and head over soon if you’re interested in trying them. 

SHIMBASHI Izakaya waygu beef

Waygu Kushiyaki and Waygu Kushikatsu at SHIMBASHI Izakaya

SHIMBASHI Izakaya sushi roll cake dessert

Futomaki sushi roll cake at SHIMBASHI Izakaya

During San Diego Restaurant Week, dinner will be served as a three-course, prix-fixe menu for just $20, $30, $40 or $50 per person and lunch will be served as a two-course prix-fixe menu for only $10, $15 or $20 per person. This is meal-stealing, people! Saturday will once again be included as well as an additional Sunday, giving you that extra date night or chance to impress the boss!

SHIMBASHI Izakaya  San Diego Restaurant Week Menu

What restaurant are you looking forward to trying?

What To Do At The Coronado Island Film Festival Without A Pass

Invited by CIFF

Coronado Island Film Festival - The Village Theatre

The Coronado Island Film Festival kicks off its debut this weekend and this is one event you don’t want to miss! With a list of celebrities a mile long, amazing movie screenings, and great Q&A opportunities before and after each screening, there is so much to do in this action packed weekend! But what if you didn’t score an elusive pass for all of the festivities? Don’t worry… there are things for you to do too!

There are four main pass options at the CIFF this weekend and if you’re like me and only have a Nado pass, you might want to hear about the other events you can attend while at the festival without one of the most elite passes.

What To Do At The Coronado Island Film Festival Without A Pass - Some Like It Hot Screening

What To Do At CIFF Without A Pass

Movie on the Del Beach

You can come see Some Like it Hot, starring Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, and Tony Curtis, on the very beach it was filmed at; the Hotel del Coronado. The movie will start at 5 pm but you’ll want to get there early and snag a spot on the sand for you and your guests! Feel free to make a picnic out of it and bring blankets and chairs, dinner and (non-alcoholic) drinks along with you for a fun night out.

The film will be introduced by Jack Lemmon’s son, actor, author, and musician Chris Lemmon, who will share some insider tidbits about the making of the film. Chris and his family will be guests of CIFF for the entire weekend.

Meet The Jury

Everyone is welcome to come Meet The Jury  on Saturday, January 16th at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort Lobby Terrace from 4:30-5:30 PM.

The lineup of talented judges is amazing and this is an event you won’t want to miss if you’re planning on attending CIFF. The jury consists of Leonard Maltin, Honorary Jury President, Lisa Bruce, Head Juror, Ira Wohl, and Jim Gallagher. Jim Gallagher is the Head of Theatrical Marketing at DreamWorks Animation SKG.

What To Do At The Coronado Island Film Festival Without A Pass - Filmed In Coronado Exhibit

Filmed In Coronado Exhibit

During CIFF, visit the Filmed In Coronado exhibit featured in the Coronado Public Library. You can find amazing tidbits of information regarding the actors who have lived in Coronado and films shot here. From vintage and recent movie posters to rare memorabilia and more, there’s a wealth of information all on display right now. Filmed In Coronado tells the story of how Coronado has been a significant location for movie-making since the silent-film era. 

Make sure to stop by the library again on Saturday at 1 PM and again on Sunday at 4 PM to watch A Twist of Lemmon presented by Jack Lemmon’s son, Chris Lemmon, in the Winn Room.  Chris’s “A Twist of Lemmon” tribute, both written and live performance, is heartfelt: “This was a loved man,” he writes. “A man who made the world a little brighter for all around him, and a man who is sorely missed, but remembered with great joy.”

Food Truck Reception

During the Awards Night Reception on Sunday from 6-8pm, Hollywood-style food trucks will roll into the high school quad at Coronado High, offering a selection of delicious “small plate” cuisine. Two of the trucks you’ll find are Harvest Kitchen serving up healthy, organic choices including Vegan and Paleo, and God Save the Cuisine, specializing in British-influenced Gourmet cuisine.

What To Do At The Coronado Island Film Festival Without A Pass - food trucks

Free Trolleyfelicity-trolley-ciff

Wondering how you’re going to get around from event to event? Coronado is a famously pedestrian-friendly village, and most Coronado Island Film Festival venues will be within easy walking distance from one another. But a trolley named “Felicity,” free to festival pass holders, will be making its village loop, just in case.

Generously provided by a grant from the Coronado Tourism Improvement District (CTID).

Pop Up Movie Scenes

The students of Coronado School of the Arts (CoSA) will surprise and amaze you by re-enacting classic movie scenes on Saturday, January 16th. All scenes will take place along Orange Avenue.

Put yourself in the scene by taking a selfie with the actors, then post it onto the CIFF Facebook page (and everywhere else). All Facebook postings will be shown on the big screen during the Awards Night program.

 

You can find more information on the event website. Follow along and join in on the fun by using #CIFF and #CoronadoFilmFest when sharing on social media. 

To purchase tickets, you can head here. If you’re worried about getting into a screening, Rush Line tickets are $12 cash for individual films based on capacity. However, admission isn’t guaranteed.

The festival Box Office will be located in the Lecture Hall of the Coronado Visitor Center at 1100 Orange Avenue in Coronado, behind Tent City restaurant. The Box Office will be open starting the afternoon ofThursday, January 14th, as follows:
Thursday, January 14th1:00-5:00
Friday, January 15th9:00-5:00
Saturday, January 16th10:00-5:00
Sunday, January 17th10:00-5:00
Monday, January 18th9:00-5:00
 
Check out a run down of what not to miss on Mamarazzi Knows Best and a highlight of the animation panels on Highlights Along The Way.

See You At The Movies! 

San Diego Winter Break Activities

The whole family is home for two weeks and we’re looking for things to do around town. Not only by ourselves but with our extended family in town for the holidays. And that means hitting up a few of our favorite places to see their holiday lights and entertainment! Below are a few places we love to visit during our winter break that help us celebrate the holiday season up until the day the kids go back to school.

Places To Go In San Diego During Winter Break

Jungle-Bells-San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo Jungle Bells

Come out and celebrate with the animals now through Jan. 3!  Twinkling lights, festive foods, and merry performances transform the Zoo into a wild, glowing wonderland. Ride the Twinkle Lights Trolley to tour an array of animal light sculptures, enjoy jingly, jazzy carols, acrobatic trampoline elves, and more. Jungle Bells holds holiday cheer for all!

Jungle Bells activities are included with your admission or membership unless otherwise noted.*

SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration - Pets Rule Christmas show

 

Sea World Christmas Celebration –

Where can you find Shamu®, Santa, and more than one million glimmering lights this holiday season? SeaWorld, of course! It’s all part of SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration®, continuing through Jan. 3, 2016. Festivities are included with park admission. 

Enjoy festive holiday shows and attractions, share a holiday wish with Santa when you visit Santa’s Cottage, plus, bask in over a million glimmering lights and festive decorations filling the park! They’re sure to put everyone into the holiday spirit.

The best way to enjoy SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration is with a Fun Card. Guests who purchase a 2016 SeaWorld Fun Card can enjoy all of SeaWorld’s Christmas festivities in 2015, plus come back again and again in 2016.

San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum

San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum (SDCDM), the only children’s museum in San Diego County focusing on hands-on science, art, and world cultures, announces extended hours from December 20 through January 3.

The Museum will be open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm daily, providing an extra two hours for families to be able to enjoy the Museum over the holidays. Regular Museum hours are 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. The Museum will also be closed on December 24, 25 and January 1 in observance of the Christmas and New Year holidays.

In addition to providing extra hours for the community to visit the Museum, San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum is also offering Free Admission for all Active-Duty Military, Veterans, and their Families this holiday season from November 21, 2015 – January 31, 2016 thanks to the sponsorship support from The Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians.

SDCDM is also running a “You Buy One, We Give One” promotion where SDCDM will be donating a Membership to a family in need through one of their donation programs for every Membership that is purchased through January 10.

Legoland CA Holiday Snow Days - sledding

Legoland Holiday Snow Days

Come to LEGOLAND® California Resort to experience Holiday Snow Days with more snow play than ever, prior to the Park opening to the public! The winter fun runs until January 3rd, 2016 and includes festive treats, holiday entertainment, cheerful decorations, family fun activities and nightly fireworks from December 26th through December 31st, 2015.

The Park’s Fun Town transforms into a winter wonderland with two snow play areas for families to throw snowballs at LEGO themed targets, do a little sledding, build snowmen using LEGO accessories, and join in the Holiday Village Build at the LEGO Clubhouse. Plus guests can enjoy a holiday show from the LEGO Friends, Jingle Jammers, and the Holiday Character Dance Party featuring the LEGOLAND elves, Jingle Joe, and Tinsel Toe. 

But that’s not it! There’s more fun to be had! Read all about it here in our post

How are you enjoying time with the kids during winter break?

LEGOLAND California Holiday Snow Days Are Here

Legoland California Holiday Snow Days 2015

This past Monday our family was invited to head out to LEGOLAND California and enjoy their Holiday Snow Days. Not only did we get to enjoy some fun in the snow, but there are so many fun seasonal things to do at LEGOLAND right now.

As soon as we walked into the park we were greeted with smiles and cheer. I headed over to grab a coffee before we made our way through the park to check out all of the fun celebrations happening. The winter fun runs until January 3rd 2016 and includes festive treats, holiday entertainment, cheerful decorations, family fun activities and nightly fireworks from December 26th through December 31st, 2015. 

Legoland CA Holiday Snow Days Legoland CA Holiday Snow Days - LEGO tree

The Park’s Fun Town transforms into a winter wonderland with two snow play areas for families to throw snowballs at LEGO themed targets, do a little sledding, build snowmen using LEGO accessories, and join in the Holiday Village Build at the LEGO Clubhouse. Plus guests can enjoy a holiday show from the LEGO Friends, Jingle Jammers, and the Holiday Character Dance Party featuring the LEGOLAND elves, Jingle Joe and Tinsel Toe.

Legoland CA Holiday Snow Days - playing in the snow Legoland CA Holiday Snow Days - eating snow

That’s not it! 

SEA LIFE Aquarium is getting in on the fun with a holiday-themed Daily Dive Show, crafting events and “green” holiday tips. LEGOLAND Hotel is also decking the halls with Holiday decor and themed LEGO building contests. Holiday Snow Days continues as LEGOLAND celebrates the New Year with San Diego’s biggest Kids’ New Year’s Eve Party on December 31st.

Legoland CA Holiday Snow Days - sledding

Looking for a fun way to celebrate the holidays? Grab the kids and head out to LEGOLAND for some snowy fun!

LEGOLAND California Resort is extending its Park hours for the winter holiday during these dates: November 27 & 28, December 5, 12, 19-23 and 26-31. LEGOLAND California Resort is also offering a gift for the holiday guests; from November 1st through December 24th 2015, select a date online to visit LEGOLAND California and SEA LIFE Aquarium between November 21st and January 3rd to purchase your one-day hopper ticket for only $90!

All Holiday Snow Days and Winter Nights activities located inside the Park are included in the price of a LEGOLAND California admission ticket.

Planning a trip to Legoland CA soon? Check out our highlights:

For more Legoland CA fun, check out these great posts:
The LEGO Movie 4D at Legoland CA
Legoland Heartlake City
5 Reasons Why Star Wars Lovers Should Visit Legoland California
Top 5 Things to Do at Legoland California When You’re 5

How to Create a Smart Home: DIY Home Energy Efficiency Tips

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free. This post contains affiliate links.
home energy efficiency tips

One bill I hate to see every month is our electric bill. Not only can the amount fluctuate from month to month but I feel as if now that I’m working from home I am the sole cause of the increases to our bill. But after doing my research I feel confident in applying these home energy efficiency tips in our home to help lower our electric bill.

And this couldn’t be a better time to start thinking about energy efficiency in our homes. Especially since our cost of electricity is expected to rise greatly come Winter.

If you’re concerned about high electric bills and want to do something to make your home more energy efficient (as well as save on your monthly bill!) consider making a few simple DIY changes around the home to help conserve your electrical usage.

home energy efficiency tips weather stripping

Home Energy Efficiency Tips

1. Close up the air gaps!

Talk a walk around your house and inspect the outer perimeter of your home to find where air can get in. Using weather stripping around doors and windows, eliminate air from getting in and out.

2. Replace your light bulbs

By replacing your light bulbs to CFLs or LEDs you can save up to 75% in lighting cost. An added bonus? They last longer too!

home energy efficiency tips cfl bulbs

3. Look at your HVAC system

Your HVAC system consists of the heating/cooling equipment, the thermostat, the pipes, the filters, and the duct work found in a central forced air system. Inspect your HVAC system to make sure it’s been properly maintained. If you aren’t sure when the last time it was checked is consider contacting a certified HVAC contractor to do an inspection.

If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat I suggest picking up a Home Nest Smart Thermostat. This is the new 3rd generation version, which is thinner, sleeker in design, and allows for a bigger, crisper display than the prior 2nd generation version.

Not only can you set where the temperature should stay throughout the day and night but you can save money by having your system run only when you want it to. We like to keep our air off until it reaches 78 in the house in the summer. We normally keep the house between 75 and 78 degrees when we’re home. And the heater doesn’t kick on until it’s 65 degrees in the house. But usually the temperature is between 65-70 depending on who’s home. With the Nest there is no need to set preferences – within a week, the Nest learning thermostat starts programming itself. It learns your habits and adjusts automatically, regulating your home’s temperature based on your schedule – which can save you energy and money.


Programmable Nest Thermometer

When used with the new Netgear exclusive router (on store shelves 11/4) you’ll be able to increase or decrease the temperature whenever you need to, even if you’re upstairs! This is a brand new router that was exclusively developed between Netgear, an industry leader in the networking world, and Best Buy, to help provide consumers with an easy, all-in-one solution to support their home’s connected devices.

Best Buy makes it easy with this new high performance Wi-Fi router, which includes a Wi-Fi extender and Geek Squad Set Up and Support via phone & web, for one full year. The Geek Squad service via phone & web allows customers to call or get help 24/7 whenever they want, vs. the need to schedule an appointment. Plus they’re always so friendly and helpful when you do connect with them!

home energy efficiency tips filtertone alarm

4. Check your appliances

Appliances make up about 17% of the average home’s energy usage. Refrigerators, clothes washers and dryers are at the top of that list. Make sure that your fridge temperature is set between 38-40 degrees F and your freezer is set to 0 degrees F. Use a digital thermometer to check the temperature.

If you have appliances older than 10 years you should consider investing in a newer, more energy efficient model.

5. Test your hot water

Heating water for bathing, washing clothes, and dishes accounts for as much as 15-30% of your household energy use. And the temperature setting of the hot water heater determines the energy used to heat your water. Make sure to check your hot water temperature with a digital thermometer. The temperature should be between 120 and 130 degrees F.

Don’t forget the insulation! Hot water heaters also need to be insulated. If the shell of the heater feels warm to the touch then it should be wrapped in an insulating blanket.

If your hot water heater is 15 years old it might be time to replace it. Look for replacement tanks that have an energy factor of over .62 for gas and .93 for electric. Gas-heated tankless water heaters save about 320% on your yearly energy usage.

home energy efficiency tips digital thermometer

6. Turn off your lights and computer

By simply turning off your lights when not in use, or installing timers to turn them off for you, you can save a lot on your utility bill!

Consider solar lights for the outside of your home or in your garden. Not only will they not be using electricity but you can still feel safe knowing the lights are on outside. We love our solar powered motion censored light out in our front and back yards.

Take a walk around the house and make note of the equipment that is plugged in but not being used. Consider unplugging these devices or investing in a smart strip. Smart strips are easy and convenient to use and will shut off the power to devices that are plugged into it but not in use. You can reduce your energy output by 21$ with just one smart strip installed!

home energy efficiency tips smart strip

Incentives from your local utility, plus federal tax credits and other options, can save you thousands of dollars on your Energy Upgrade. It takes a little bit of research and some work but you, too, can reap the rewards of having an energy efficient home and feel good about saving money and conserving energy.

If you decide to do a whole house energy upgrade it’s best to start with a professional home audit. Your local utility company can provide you with a list of auditors and may even cover all or some of the cost!

How do you save on your utility bill?



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